Content Is Too Important To Leave To The Content Department

There’s a saying, usually attributed to Hewlett Packard co-founder David Packard, that marketing is too important to leave to the marketing department. This sentiment has caused many marketing practitioners to lament that people throughout the business now have two jobs – their own and marketing. Sometimes it seems that everyone in the company has an opinion on where the marketing strategy is going astray. Still, there’s value in seeing every employee as a contributor to this business-critical function.

Today, something similar is happening with content. As the creation of content becomes an increasingly important aspect of overall business strategy, the distinction between product and content is blurring. You’ve probably heard people refer to “product as content” and “content as product.” Like marketing, content has become everyone’s job.

On the product-as-content side, products of all kinds are being enhanced with content-driven experiences. For example, hotel brands are using apps and wearables to integrate content experiences into people’s hotel stays. Even a product line as traditional as heavy farming equipment now comes complete with apps that monitor performance and provide insight into usage.

On the content-as-product side, as Carla Johnson and I discuss in our book, the process of creating content for marketing purposes is viewed more as a product-development methodology than a traditional campaign-focused approach. Here, we see examples like Kraft’s Food and Family magazine, the ubiquitous Red Bull media house, and Indium’s simple but powerful From One Engineer to Anotherblog network.

Either way, whether your content spills over into the product or becomes the product, the goal is the same: to create customer experiences that differentiate your brand.

Thus, I’d argue that content as a strategic function may be the most important thing for today’s businesses to get right. For content to serve a strategic function, it can’t be relegated to a small group of people solely charged with enforcing the style guide. As David Packard might have put it, content is too important to leave to a content department. Your content needs to be adaptable, flexible, scalable, enterprise-wide, and worth the considerable investment required to create and manage it all.

Is content a marketing function? Yes. A customer service function? Yes. A sales function? Yes. Who should own it and manage it? I still believe, as I wrote a few months ago, that we’re looking at a C-level position and a cross-functional strategy.

Now, just as marketers may lament that marketing has become everyone’s job, content professionals may see a downside to content becoming everyone’s job. This is exactly where we must lead. Content efforts – like those in sales, marketing, customer service, and every other strategic business function – must be led with a common vision, approach, and goal. That’s our new opportunity: to create not just content strategy for the business but also business strategy for the content.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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  • Dajana Vujaklija

    This is an interesting point of view. As I understood you, your opinion is that marketing departments in various companies should have much less autonomy than they usually have? Do you think that the top management should have more impact on their creativity processes, or on the decision making? Or something else?

    • Dajana…. Thanks for the comment. Actually it’s the complete opposite. When Packard made the statement that “marketing is too important to leave to the marketing department” he was really saying that marketing WAS the strategy of the entire business. So, instead of leaving marketing as a small subservient team that only focuses on how pretty the logo is, or if the right Pantone colors are being used – the business must see marketing as one of the most strategic things that the business does. Thus, he was saying that marketing is too important to not be truly strategic.

      The same is now true (are least that’s what I’m arguing here) for content. Content in most companies is kind of everybody’s job and no one’s strategy. Anyone can (and does) create content. So – my take is that content is simply too strategic and too important to simply be left to a few people in the business who might know how to create it. Content must be a strategic function in the business, with the same investment, talent, and time spent on it as any other strategic function. As I say in the piece “content might be the most important thing a company needs to get right”.

      As for whether it should be more or less autonomous – I think it depends on the company. But, in most cases, I find that marketing would be better off without all the opinions that come from outside of the practice.

      Thanks for reading!!

      • Dajana Vujaklija

        Thanks
        for your answer, Robert! I totally agree with you. It’s really important to
        have a strategic approach to content in order to deliver brand
        consistency. Unfortunately, in most companies there’s opinion that the quantity is important and quality (and purposefulness) is something that usually suffers there.